Matt Stajan’s goal with 39 seconds remaining in sudden death overtime gave the Calgary Flames a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks Tuesday Night at the Calgary Saddledome. Stajan’s goal was the result of a blocked Dan Boyle shot that led directly to the Flames getting a odd man rush and ultimately the win. The Sharks despite two goals from Logan Couture, the first of which came just 53 seconds into the game, failed to execute on a huge power play opportunity which would ultimately go a long way towards determining the final result of this game.
The Sharks with the overtime loss still pick up a point in the standings to move up to 78 total points, and backed into 8th place in the Western Conference Standings. The Sharks concluded this four game road trip with a less than impressive 1-1-2 mark and now return home with the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings awaiting. The Sharks did a few things that were good however they also did enough things to lose. In the end, at least team teal salvaged a point. Certainly the Sharks will need for a lot of things to start going their way if they hope to crack the playoff field as the Pacific Division title and the third seed in the Western Conference are slowly slipping away and may soon be out of their reach.
Recapping the Flame Out:
Getting Down to Business- The Sharks for the second straight night got off to a fast start scoring before most seats were filled. Couture got the first of his two goals just 53 seconds into first period by taking the rebound of a Brent Burns slap shot and drilling it past Flames Goalie Mikka Kiprusoff. The Sharks put pucks on Kiprusoff early as Joe Pavelski got two solid shots in before Couture’s goal. Shortly after team teal had taken the lead, their penalty kill would get test twice early on. The Sharks bench was whistled for two many men on the ice as Benn Ferriero was sent off to serve the penalty. Team teal’s first penalty kill challenge was successful as Calgary was held to just Blake Comeau’s shot on goal just as the penalty was expired. Just a moment later though Ryan Clowe was called for hooking. Antti Niemi would see a few more shots on goal during the Flames power play chance, however was able to turn away a slap shot from Jarome Iginla and a wrister from Stajan.
The Sharks would get a power play opportunity of their own later in the first period as Stajan would draw a hooking call and be sent off to the penalty box. The Sharks however would not be able to capitalize here as Kiprusoff was able to turn away two solid shots from Burns and a poke in attempt from Torrey Mitchell. Late in the first period the Sharks would have a huge opportunity drop on their doorstep. Calgary’s hottest scorer, Curtis Glencross would draw a five minute major and a game misconduct for a cross check that dropped Jason Demers to the ice. Team teal almost capitalized of the five minute power play chance early as Couture came close to stuffing on a Patrick Marleau shot on goal that Kiprusoff was able to gather. As the first period drew to a close, the Sharks would still have 4:32 remaining on a five minute major opportunity that looked to be very promising.
The Enron of Power Plays- The second period started out with great hope, promise, and a good feeling that something was going to finally happen that would make the Sharks fan base feel even better about team teal’s chances. Before the second period had ended, instead of great hope, promise, and a warm and fuzzy feeling, what Sharks fans witness instead was about the most inept and insipid display of a five minute power play. Let’s just say the Sharks handing of this opportunity was about as poor as one could possibly get. In the 4:32 of the second period opportunity, team teal managed a measly four shots on goal that Kiprusoff for the most part had no problem with. This would be a missed opportunity that would turn out to ultimately haunt the Sharks for the rest of the evening. Marleau had a point blank shot with about 1:40 left in the power play was Kiprusoff’s only real challenge. Not only did team teal fail to score on the five minute power play chance, they would have given up a short handed goal if not for Couture getting down ice to back up Niemi and make a save on a Flames breakaway chance led by Cory Sarich and Olli Jokenin.
Just moments after the Flames penalty kill, Calgary started to regain their forecheck and it would soon pay off. Sven Baertschi (19 years old) would score his second goal of the season as he took the rebound of a point blank wrister from Iginla to tie the game just a little over a minute after the Sharks long power play chance had expired without coming close to scoring. This was a huge game changer as the Flames now became the aggressors and carried a good segment of the play in the second period. Late in the period the Sharks would have another power play chance as Mark Giordano would be called for a delay of game infraction. The Sharks managed only two shots on goal as again the Flames enjoyed another successful penalty kill. In fact, Calgary enjoyed it so much that when the penalty expired and Giordano left the penalty box, he was able to jump on a team teal neutral zone turnover. Once Giordano got past the right point, he fed a wide open Iginla with a perfect pass. Iginla then promptly drilled a slap shot that beat Niemi to give Calgary their first lead at 2-1. Six and a half minutes of power play time for the Sharks in the second period with no goals and two goals given up shortly after these opportunities had expired. This period may go a long ways towards explaining why the Sharks are in the situation they are in now concerning the Western Conference Standings.
Team teal would get at least a small break towards the end of the period when Sarich was called for a high sticking penalty. The Sharks would get 1:50 of power play time to begin the third period with.
Couture Club- The Sharks entered the third period with a power play which may very well have been a “must execute” if they were to get back into the game. As it turned out, this opportunity would be the charm as Couture scored his second goal of the evening with 28 seconds remaining in the man advantage. It was Couture who actually saved the power play chance as he blocked an attempted clear by the Flames keeping the puck in their defensive zone. Couture would feed Joe Thornton with a pass, who then got the puck over to Marleau. With Couture coming in through the slot, Marleau made the perfect feed pass to Couture who hammered the rubber biscuit past Kirpusoff to tie the game at 2-2 with 18:38 remaining in the period.
The Sharks defensively ratcheted things up and would hold Calgary to just two shots on goal for the entire period, with their first shot on goal coming from Iginla well over 13 minutes into the final regulation frame. The Sharks had some scoring chances develop but just could not put together enough pressure in the Flames zone to generate any serious threats. Things got chippy in the third period just as in the first when TJ Galiardi was cross checked into the boards even harder than Demers was back in the opening period, but no call was made. The officials missed that call but maybe also gave the Sharks a “make good” non call when Burns tripped Iginla near the Sharks goal with just under six minutes remaining.
Overtime Flame Out- The Sharks and Flames would remain tied as the game would go into an overtime period which guaranteed each team one point in the standings. Neither team wanted a three point game here, especially the Sharks. Both Marleau and Justin Braun tried to do their parts with each one getting two shots on goal only to see Kirprusoff keep the Calgary goal sealed shut. With 48 seconds remaining, the Sharks had a face off in the Flames defensive zone won by Pavelski who got the puck to Boyle. However thing turned ugly when Boyle’s shot was blocked by Stajan, who then took off up ice and passed the puck over to Comeau. As Comeau got deep in the slot, he passed the puck back to Stajan who beat Niemi as he was not able to adjust to the pass in time. Just like that, the Flames had a win. Just like that, the Sharks give up another game they could have won, and frankly should have won.
Could have, Should have…Didn’t!!!
Game Analysis- This game was yet another tough pill for the Sharks to swallow. All truth be told, the Sharks have swallowed enough bitter pills since February 4th to stock an entire pharmacy. To say “If it wasn’t for bad luck, the Sharks wouldn’t have any luck” I feel falls short of what this 2011-12 team has been. The Sharks did several things well in the first and even the third periods tonight. Holding Calgary to just two shots on goal in the third period was huge. In spite of this team teal was not able to take advantage of what their defense had created for them here. Niemi made 20 saves and by all accounts had a decent game, however the team let him and themselves down again.
What killed the Sharks tonight was their simple inability and almost seemingly nonchalant approach to the five minute major power play as the second period began. It became apparently right before Calgary’s short handed break away that the Sharks were wasting time and the opportunity. Outside of Couture’s attempt to jam the puck before the first period had ended and later Marleau’s point blank attempt on Kiprusoff, the Sharks basically were no threat to score. The Flames picked up on it and would feed off of it as the game went on after team teal had in effect struck out. There’s no good excuse for not converting a five minute power play where if you score, the power play opportunity continues for the full five minutes. Just one goal would have been enough, just one! I can understand not executing a two minute power play, or it just not working out from time to time. However to not score and not approach this with any urgency or fire in their belly was just plain and outright ridiculous. The Sharks did not lose this game in the overtime period. I feel they lost this game when they failed on the five minute power play. The Sharks are struggling late for a reason, or full multiple reasons.
I will say this, in my 15 game truncated schedule the Sharks are 1-0-1 for 3 points. The Sharks needed 20 points before the Edmonton game Monday Night. They need at least 17 more to get to 95, which often times is the cut off for making the post season. The Sharks return home to take on Nashville Thursday night and then Detroit on Saturday. To say these are huge games does not even begin to cover it. If the Sharks have aspirations to make the post season, they had better start finding ways to use what advantages they gain. They simply didn’t Tuesday night in Calgary.
GO SHARKS, BIG GAME THURSDAY vs. NASHVILLE
The King Shark
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